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Watchdog group lashes out at beer ads

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Strong words from an alcohol watchdog group, indignant over the free flow of beer and advertisements during the Olympics.

The Alcohol Policy Coalition publically lashed out at Anheuser Busch, accusing the distributor of irresponsible advertising that could directly affect Utah's youth.

This is the type of advertising they're talking about - huge billboards touting Budweiser and the Olympic games in the same breath. Today the coalition urged the distributor to "tear down the billboards."

Don't let anyone tell you you won't be able to get a drink in Salt Lake during the Olympic games. Dots depict all the spots where you can.

Things have loosened up a quite a bit as the the games approach, but that isn't necessarily good news to everyone.

The chairman of the Alcohol Policy Coalition says Anheuser-Busch with all it's money and power, has used that influence to dissolve Utah's conservative alcohol advertising law. He says he doesn't have any hard evidence, just a gut feeling.

"They have done this for one purpose and that was to aggressively promote their alcoholic beverage products and to conduct a huge beer guzzling world party during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games," said Dr. George Van Komen of the Alcohol Policy Coalition.

Their main concern now is for the children of Utah, and the long term effects this blitz of beer advertising will have on them. They'll also be watching Utah's crime rate, emergency room visits, and DUI's during the games.

"The research show the intention to drink is made very early in life, when

kids are still in elementary school," Van Komen said.

The coalition, along with Mother's Against Drunk Driving, is urging Anheuser-Busch to be a little more careful with it's Olympic campaign. They say Websites depicting Budlight alongside a young snowboarder is not exactly their idea of the Olympic spirit.

"You'll never have a good prevention effort without everyone working together, parents and the industry," said Mary Phillips, president of M.A.D.D.

We did try to get in touch with a representative from Budweiser to get a comment. No one could be reached.

City officials will tell you they have worked out a nice balance as far as alcohol goes, between allowing people to enjoy themselves during the Olympics and keeping the public safe.